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Europe’s first blockchain research facility to drive innovation

Posted: 26th September 2018

Blockpass IDN, the blockchain-based identity application provider for regulated services and the Internet of Things (‘IoT’), is pleased to announce that it has today opened the Blockpass Identity Lab (‘BIL’ or the ‘Lab’), a pioneering new blockchain research facility, in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University. The research laboratory, built at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus, is part of a £600,000 collaboration between the two organisations.

The purpose of BIL is to explore ways in which blockchain technology can protect personal data from online scammers and hackers. The initial three-year collaboration will support 5 PhD students and create a world-leading virtualised blockchain environment, demonstrating Blockpass and Edinburgh Napier University’s commitment to innovation and the development of sector-leading, citizen-focused systems.

There will be multiple events during the week of the launch. The inaugural Blockpass Identity Lab Conference on Digital Identity, Blockchain and Advanced Cryptography will be hosted on Friday 28 September 2018.  This will be a day of research, new solutions, and thought-provoking discussion under the direction of Prof. Bill Buchanan O.B.E.  There will also be a Hackathon on Saturday 29 September through to Sunday 30 September, which invites participants from all backgrounds to come together and build things related to digital identity and/or blockchain, or other distributed ledger technologies, identifying user-cases and prototyping applications for these emerging and revolutionary advances.

After a series of high-profile data breach scandals at companies like Yahoo, Uber and Equifax, the risks of centralising personal user data have become a key corporate concern, with companies world-wide dedicating an increasing amount of financial resource to cybersecurity technologies.

The digital identity market is forecast to be worth $9.7 billion by 2021, and open-up a wide range of online services. The key focus now is to remove risks around fraud, identity theft and counterfeiting. In the US, there are more than 13 million victims of identity theft each year, with a new case of identity theft occurring, on average, every two seconds. The UK is one of the top countries for identity fraud and affects around 1 in 10 people. This type of fraud can lead to high levels of stress for those involved. In Germany, the average loss related to identity fraud is around £28,666 per victim. Across Europe, around 17% of citizens have been affected by some form of identity theft, and the levels increase by the day. In 2017, credit card fraud cost over £1 billion, and included 5.2 million people cancelling their cards.

The Blockpass Identity Lab will thus focus on key challenges around identity and aim to build new data infrastructures which respect the rights, consent and privacy of citizens. A core factor of this is around sovereign identity, and where data, devices, systems and people can be identified with high levels of assurance.

Minister for the Digital Economy, Kate Forbes MSP, said:

“This collaboration between Blockpass and Edinburgh Napier University is a great example of the type of partnerships which will help to ensure that Scotland has an innovative, world-class cyber security goods and services industry – an aim the Scottish Government and its partners are actively supporting through the publication of Scotland’s Cyber Resilience Economic Opportunity Action Plan.

“This exciting work to explore how blockchain technology can protect personal data from online scammers and hackers carries on the tradition of innovation and excellence exemplified by John Napier, the Scottish mathematician who is best known for his invention of logarithms and who is credited with bringing the decimal point into common use.

“It is fitting that this tradition of innovation is continuing in the university which is named in his honour.”

Adam Vaziri, CEO of Blockpass IDN, said:

“Edinburgh Napier University is an internationally award-winning institution with a long history of excellence in technology, science, business, health and social care.  This combined with Blockpass’ pioneering approach to using blockchain to give users total control over their online identity is a truly exciting opportunity for the Blockpass Identity Lab and it will allow the company to establish itself at the forefront of alternative technology innovation using blockchain solutions.”

Professor Bill Buchanan, Professor in the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University, said:

“We are proud to be joining forces with Blockpass to create the first dedicated blockchain laboratory in Europe. Blockchain will have a significant and positive impact on multiple industries and the Blockpass Identity Lab will help to support its ongoing development.  I look forward to providing updates on the progress of our PhD researchers and the latest innovations that we are providing to our corporate clients.”

Dr Sally Smith, Dean of the University’s School of Computing, said:

“This is another step forward in the advancement of our research and innovation, and builds on a strong track record of success.

“This collaboration builds a foundation for the future and supports the development of advanced skills in blockchain research.”

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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